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Tesla gets rare support from usually-critical Glass Lewis ahead of investors meeting

Tesla Model 3 production line in Gigafactory 3, Shanghai, China. (Credit: Tesla)

Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis, which has exhibited a tendency to be critical of Tesla and its leadership, has extended a rare vote of support for the electric car maker’s executives. In a recent statement, Glass Lewis noted that it now recommends investors to vote in favor of the re-election of Chairwoman Robyn Denholm. This contrasts with the firm’s stance last June, when it opposed the executive’s re-election over alleged corporate governance concerns. 

In a statement to Reuters, Glass Lewis stated that its recommendation changed due to the company’s satisfactory actions surrounding the liability insurance of its directors. Tesla’s board has moved to replace its earlier liability insurance policy with a 90-day interim arrangement that would allow the company to evaluate more conventional options for liability insurance. 

The proxy adviser noted on Tuesday that while it still regarded Tesla’s revised policy as “unorthodox and potentially conflicting,” it showed that the electric car maker was willing to respond to concerns expressed by shareholders and related parties. 

“While we do not believe that recommending shareholder opposition to any director is warranted based solely on this issue at this time, we may recommend holding certain directors accountable should the company ultimately fail to commit to a less problematic D&O arrangement,” Glass Lewis noted. 

Back in June, Glass Lewis joined Institutional Shareholder Services Inc (ISS) in opposing the intended re-election of Robyn Denholm as Tesla’s Chair. The firms’ recommendation was based on potential corporate governance issues over an insurance agreement with Elon Musk, which came after the company decided not to renew its liability policy for directors and officers due to high premiums quoted by insurers. 

“We are concerned that this D&O arrangement gives the company’s independent directors a direct, personal financial dependency upon the CEO they are tasked with overseeing,” Glass Lewis remarked then. 

Glass Lewis’ statement of support for Tesla governance is quite rare, considering that the proxy advisory firm has taken an opposing stance on the electric car maker’s leadership and strategies in the past. Back in 2018, Glass Lewis was among the parties who sternly opposed Elon Musk’s 10-year performance award, stating that the plan, which required the CEO to hit milestones before he gets paid, was far too generous. 

Later that year, Glass Lewis also supported an effort to oust Elon Musk from his post as chairman of Tesla over his supposed lack of commitment due to his work in other companies like SpaceX and The Boring Company. The effort to oust Musk was started by a TSLA investor with 12 shares, and it was promptly supported by Glass Lewis and ISS. Voting during the 2018 Annual Shareholder Meeting would prove the effort futile. 

Tesla gets rare support from usually-critical Glass Lewis ahead of investors meeting
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